FDA Considers Limits on Salt in Food

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A new report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine is prompting the federal government to consider placing limits on the amount of salt in food.

According to the IOM, the food industry has done little in the way of voluntarily reducing sodium in their products. They're now urging the government to step in.

"This needs to be a mandatory standard," said Dr. Jane E. Henney of the University of Cincinnati, a former FDA commissioner who headed the IOM's study. Because salt is so "ubiquitous, having one or two in the industry make strong attempts at this doesn't give us that even playing field over time. It's not sustainable."

"We believe we can achieve some substantial voluntary reductions," Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We are shaping a strategy, and that strategy involves working in partnership."

Such a plan would force food makers to gradually reduce sodium levels.

Dieticians recommend consuming no more than about a teaspoon a day. However, studies show Americans consume about 1.5 teaspoons of salt a day - more than double the recommended amount.

According to the study, the problem is not just from people sprinkling salt on food, but because it's in processed foods like burgers and sodas.

The Food and Drug Administration's plans to cut salt are still in the beginning stages. But the idea is to implement the changes gradually so consumer taste buds can adjust, as well as industry recipes and production methods.

Food makers argue reducing salt will change the taste of their products and ultimately hurt business.

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